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Epic dinner party fails and how to fix them

Don’t let one of these dinner party fails keep you from enjoying your evening. Learn how to recover in the moment and prevent them from happening next time.

Woman hosting a dinner party

Photo credit: Judith Haeusler / Photodisc / Getty images

We’ve all been there: you’re set to host the most perfect dinner party, only to be brought down by an epic disaster. Whether it’s not enough food, getting stuck in the kitchen or… er… plumbing problems, you need a solution fast. Here’s how to handle seven of the most common scenarios like a pro.


Underfeeding your guests

Whether it’s because you had unexpected guests show up or you’re just bad at math, be sure to have a contingency plan or two in place when hosting. One option is to keep a stash of dinner party-approved snacks in your cupboard. Think almonds, dried fruits, crackers you can pair with a good cheese and so on. That way, you can set out food for guests to nibble on. The other option is to deputize a friend to be your errand runner. Have cash on hand to give them in case they need to run out and pick something up. And, of course, be willing to return the favor when they host.


Playing bar back all night

Yes, you’re probably going to have to do a little bit of work to finish the meal after your guests have arrived, but you want to spend most of your time with your friends. Two ways to avoid this: Plan a menu that can be prepared in advance and can be heated just before serving, and focus on drinks that don’t take a lot of effort to make. It’s even better if you can make them in a batch ahead of time to serve like a punch, or you can set out the ingredients and a recipe card for guests to make their own. If you do end up in the kitchen, invite your guests in and either put them to work or be ready to decline several offers of help.


Skipping the gift

Thankfully, this isn’t that big of a deal. Yes, it will be a bit awkward if everyone else is walking in carrying a bottle of red and you’re empty-handed, but you can consider it a style move and be the guest who sends a thoughtful thank you. Sending flowers and a nice note in the next couple of days (no more than three days later) is a perfect solution — and one that doesn’t require the host to do any extra work during the dinner party.


Forgetting the vegetarian

Hopefully, your guests have let you know in advance of anything they are allergic to or anything they can’t eat. But to be safe, plan your meal to include at least a few things that are vegetarian, don’t contain shellfish and don’t have dairy. That should cover your bases. If you’re a guest and you have a specific limitation, let your host know when you accept the invitation, and offer to bring something too.


Oversalting a dish

Unfortunately, there’s no way to get the salt back out of your dish, but you can make it less noticeable. If it’s liquid-based, like a soup or sauce, try diluting the recipe with a bit more water or broth. Adding a starchy food like noodles or potatoes will also help reduce the saltiness, as they will soak up the salt. To avoid this issue in the future, salt it when the dish is almost done to prevent evaporation from intensifying the salt.


Forgetting the little things

The small touches matter to make your home feel welcoming to your guests. So remember these three things: 1. Play music. It will keep things lively and help smooth over any awkward silences. 2. Put a candle in the bathroom. It’s just kind to your guests. 3. Make sure things are stocked. Check hand soap, toilet paper and tissues, and put out a clean hand towel in the kitchen and in the bathroom.


Clogging the toilet

This is every host’s and guest’s worst nightmare, we know. But it happens to the best of us. If your host doesn’t have a plunger in the bathroom, your best course of action is to discreetly let them know what’s happened, and ask for the necessary supplies to clean it up yourself. The worst thing you can do is feign ignorance and leave it for the next unsuspecting guest. If you’re a host (and you know you have a temperamental toilet), keep the plunger in the bathroom and check in on the bathroom situation a couple of times during the evening.

Never an uncomfortable moment, sponsored by Sanuk.


Has this ever happened to you? What was your biggest dinner party fail, and how did you recover? Tell us in the comments below.

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